Alarming. We call the call. No education. No Schooling? But a fancy TECH Candy integration. Sorry to say!
Well, the priority is low to spectrum. The teachers find the classrooms empty. The children are away from connecting. The learning is diminishing to zero!
What are we up to? Surprisingly the defined approach towards learning is taken a back seat to the segment which relates to once a priority. The activation desires the ready reckoner to manage education by the concerned, including the Government. In India, we aim at approaching comfort and safety with the closure of schools. On that note, the segment lies with managing the outcome towards many other excuses that relate to elections or more. For sure the scientific evidence for schools as COVID-19 hotspots is very weak. A study in Spain looked at data from over 1 million children of all ages in schools, and found that the R-Value (Rate of Virus Spread) is well less than one for all school students. The R value is lower for lower ages is as low as 0.2 for pre-primary children and hence the practice of closing schools appear unscientific.
How do I, as an educator, manage that? Can online learning be the ultimate solution to tasks? Not so, surprisingly so.
Teachers and the parents need to gel together to prioritise learning with the conjunction towards learning as a prime approach rather than grasp the notion of closure of schools with the spectrum towards safety. Bells are ringing in countries where we have a heavy load of cases. But for sure, taking a measure like this is like closing the chapters of learning for the future workforce for some time. This may lead to a bleak future for the nation in particular. I stand firm to undertake as a priority.
My personal experience as a head of school highlights a novel spectrum to route this significance for the cause of quality education. The ratio is bleak towards the unaware specified interest of the students via the online or offline learning segment. The educators need a preface to the exact detail and relate at large numbers via brainstorming to narrate the strategies to follow up in directive for a better cause. The system needs to be re-framed of how best to deliver the knowledge of the new age and the attention to live with corona as a striker for the new page for living and learning periodically.
The concern remains unanswered.
Is it a pandemic scarier or the Edudemic? Well the bridge which has been constructed of online and remote learning, has to take a page with the march of time. We just cannot and better never think of forgetting the normal portals for the classrooms and their importance. This bridge of learning gap that the COVID has widened has also resulted in the investment in the infrastructure in addition to a large extent. The purpose also dwells on the move on the additional emphasis on well-being and reskilling being promoted by the boards specifically. No doubt in terms of boosting the long term growth but in addition, counts on the importance of re-opening of the schools on priority.
Quoting one of the write ups’ by Janmejaya Sinha, Chairman, BCG India, “With due respect to school education, the situation is dire. Data shows that more than 70% of the students have not received any significant educational input in the online world. A one-time package for the safe reopening of schools is required. The majority of India’s one million schools have closed for two years. Some have been used as vaccination/ isolation centres. As we look to open in 2022, physical infrastructure needs to be revamped and provisions made for forward-looking health and safety measures.
We as educators reflect a measure to the devastating impact of school closure, as by closing schools for this long and providing just online education, we have violated children’s rights in a big way unconsciously. Well, even the unreasonable response to Omicron has had an impact, especially on children. Unfortunate to mention, the schools have become an easy and a soft target for politicians, closing the schools provides them with the benefit of being seen as “doing something” to being “Caring and Concerned” to contain the COVID 19.
The concern lies in the fact to measure, may it for the reality of the online learning, with no experiential learning, with no interaction in a real sense, the question remains unanswered with a concern, Does online education constitute education?? I wonder and worry both. It is for sure a poor replacement for physical classes and that the children mainly in the pre-primary and the primary can very well learn as well as being socially and emotionally involved. Quoting the survey report, from Sept. 2021, the reading and writing levels of students have declined, with nearly half of them unable to read more than a few rods. More than a third of them were not studying at all.
We the educator reflect on the learning with a preface of Priority Learning first among ourselves as the students are using their home classrooms substituting their living rooms as learning platforms professionally. This has come by storm to page their comfort and capsuled their intelligence to a limit only with no physical connection and disruptions like that of real classrooms. This makes their yesterdays as today and tomorrow with a stereotype living spectrum, targeting their limited learning and limited knowledge as a preface.
The answer lies in our heads, not the search via the laptops.
Dr. Dheeraj Mehrotra,
Principal, Kunwar's Global School, Lucknow
Educationist, Motivational Speaker, Author, TEDx Speaker.